The former owner of a string of discount pharmacies was sentenced to 14 years in prison this week. The man pleaded guilty last December to charges of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and conspiracy to defraud the United States. According to the allegations against him, he defrauded the government of $23 million in fraudulent Medicare claims. In addition to the lengthy prison sentence, the man will likely be ordered to pay restitution. The issue of restitution will be decided in a hearing scheduled for late April.
There are several theories about the proper punishment for crime. Some hold that punishment is intended to rehabilitate a person with criminal tendencies. Other theories suggest that the purpose is to deter other people from committing crime, or to gain retribution against those who have committed illegal acts. Some of these theories hold up better than others when considering their application to white collar crimes.
A 42-year-old home inspector from Spring Hill, Florida, was sentenced to 97 months in prison this week. The sentence was the result of a guilty plea entered by the man in September 2012 to charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Following the prison sentence, he will serve three years on supervised release. In addition, he was ordered to pay nearly $12.8 million in restitution. The sentence sprung from activities performed by the man's home inspection company from 2007 to 2012.
A South Florida eye doctor is at the heart of a scandal that includes prostitution, political corruption and possible Medicare fraud. The doctor is facing numerous allegations and was the subject of a raid by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He was already involved in an investigation regarding his dealings with New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez. The doctor is already the subject of an Internal Revenue Service lien of $11.1 million based on back taxes owed. Despite the two-day raid, some are still convinced that the controversy is politically based.
South Florida U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer issued a warning about identity theft and tax-refund scams. These forms of white collar crime are common this time of year and investigators are focusing significant effort on catching and prosecuting people for identify and tax fraud. He described ID theft and tax-refund fraud as the "new Medicare fraud," and referred to it as an "epidemic." According to the U.S. Treasury Department, identity theft combined with the filing of fraudulent income tax returns costs the government billions of dollars every year and has since the crimes began to grow in popularity in 2008.
Russell Wasendorf Sr., the 64-year-old former CEO and founder of Peregrine Financial Group inc. pleaded guilty to fraud last September. He was sentenced this week to 50 years in jail for his role in the Ponzi scheme that cost investors and creditors $215.5 million according to federal prosecutors. He was also ordered to pay all $215.5 million in restitution. The sentence was the maximum possible jail sentence for the charges he was facing.